Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rep. Jason Smith on Farm Chores and Health Care

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri's 8th District sends out an email newsletter each Saturday in which shares a limited amount of news from our nation's capital and spends most of the effort shining a light of achievements of folks back home.    It is a newsy little effort full of warm fuzzies and pats on the back for himself and others.

Smith, once an unabashed cheerleader for Donald Trump, has become more cautious in his praise of the Republican Party leader over the last several months.  In his most recent newsletter, however, he did rattle on about his disappointment with the United States Senate's failure to get Trump appointments confirmed and in place, never mind that the stumbling and fumbling White House has yet to even make nominations for many of the executive branch vacancies.  Somehow, in Smith's worldview, this has nothing to do with the ineptitude of the Trump administration, but is the fault solely of "Senate Liberals" a term that he uses, well, liberally - six times in the final three paragraphs of his Washington section of the newsletter. 

Jason Smith also blames "Senate Liberals" for the fact that the Senate has stalled or killed 226 of the 269 bills passed by the House this session.  He neglects to mention that Republicans have majority control of the Senate.  They could pass anything they damned well pleased if their leader, Mitch McConnell, was as skilled at passing Republican legislation as he was in blocking President Obama's programs and appointments.

While Jason Smith voted to repeal and replace Obamacare in the House, he is now being a bit more contrite on the subject in his newsletters.   In this past Saturday's edition he equated doing farm chores with the need to repeal Obamacare, and then he conflated Obamacare with tax regulations, all in an effort to muddy the water regarding America's need for affordable health care.

When Jason Smith is back home in rural Missouri he hustles around doing photo ops with cows and farm equipment, but like so many of his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate, he seldom makes himself available for town halls or pre-announced constituent gatherings.  He has only been in Congress four short years - since a special election in June of 2013 - and in that time has managed to corral over three-and-a-half million dollars in campaign donations including $150,000 from the insurance industry and $188,150 from Health Professionals, so he undoubtedly has plenty of knowledge of America's needs with regard to health care from their perspectives, and the views of ordinary citizens at town halls would only be a distraction from the important business of dismantling Obamacare.

Right now it looks as if Obamacare - the Affordable Care Act -  may be safe from Mitch's machete, but evil tends to regroup and rise again, like zombies.  If Republicans are ultimately successful in taking away medical coverage of millions of Americans, and if Americans begin needlessly dying in places like rural Missouri, and if small clinics and hospitals like those in rural Missouri begin closing their doors due to cuts in insurance and Medicaid, people like Jason Smith will undoubtedly rise in sanctimonious smugness and cast the blame on "Senate Liberals."  It is always someone else's fault.

Good governance is about more than holding your hand out for cash,  Congressman Smith, and it involves more than just toadying for big corporations and people born into privilege.  The people of southeast Missouri elected you to look out for their interests, and those are not necessarily the same as the interests of Anheuser Busch and Town and Country Bank.  Your constituents need access to real and affordable health care, the the rural hospitals and clinics in your district need the income streams provided by Medicaid and other insurance plans.

They need your efforts and your commitment to their futures and well-being.

And what you need, Congressman Smith, is to stuff the name-calling and get to work.  Take care of your constituents.  They need the same health care plan that our government gives you - and at the same cost.  Anything less would be pure hypocrisy on your part.